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Sentencing the White-Collar Offender - Rhetoric and Reality

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1982
19 pages
This paper examines the severity of sentences meted out to persons convicted in federal court of presumptively white-collar crimes.
Most of the items examined were suggested by federal district court judges and were drawn from presentence investigation reports. The sample provided enough variation in social status to allow testing of hypotheses about the relation of sentencing to social class background. The results indicate that sentencing is more predictable than some recent accounts would suggest. Important correlates of the decision to incarcerate reflect a) the seriousness of the criminal act, b) the character of the criminal actor, c) the statutory category of violation, and d) such other variables as the sex and age of the defendant and the district of conviction. A different model is necessary to explain differences in length of incarceration. The chief finding with respect at social class is that the probability of imprisonment rises with the occupational status of the defendant. Various interpretations of the findings are suggested and assessed. (Author abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 1982